Monday, September 12, 2011
Spotlight on Nina Hartley
Throughout her twenty-seven years in the X-rated film industry, Nina Hartley comprehensively epitomizes the term “Golden Goddess”. Leading by example as a health professional turned sex worker - turned authoritative sex educator and theorist – the tireless fifty-three year old self-titled MILF, openly advocates for women and men to own, understand, and embrace their sexuality fearlessly and without shame. Free of religious indoctrinations that she feels create a complex of guilt about an individual’s inherent need to seek, explore and provide sexual nourishment, Nina admits that she got into the pornographic film trade, in part, so that she could live out her own sexual fantasies without emotional commitment. At seventeen Hartley watched the Mitchell Brothers’ pornographic adaptation of the French erotica novel, The Autobiography of a Flea (1976) on the big screen and was transformed. She graduated magna cum laude in 1985 – a year after she made her show stopping debut as “Aunt Peg’s” over eager protégé in Educating Nina (1984), produced and directed by Juliet Anderson.
In June of 2010, Nina Hartley addressed a wide array of topics pertaining to her field of expertise when I interviewed her for “Goddesses”.
"My father asked me, ‘Why sex, why not the violin?’ I clearly was designed to study one thing my whole life. It could have been studying bacterium in a laboratory; it could have been studying gorillas in the Congo; it could have been pottery in Japan; it could have been anything for all of these years. It turned out for me to be sexuality, both as an interest for my own needs, and also as a health professional. I tend to say I’m a scientist and that is a constant. Pornography is my laboratory and I’ve had a steady stream of subjects.
There are a lot of people who get into porn who don’t have these ideas. They are needy and aren’t all positively affected by their experiences in porn, but there are also people coming into porn who are victims of American culture. They are usually Gentile and Christian denomination, so they’re not only coming into porn with their own issues, but they have that entire cultural guilt, sin, shame, damnation, hell, element that has them conflicted about their sexuality."
"I grew up in the ‘70s and I don’t have a conflict about my sexuality because the ‘70s manifesto told women that we have the right to live our lives the way we wanted it; to do it in a responsible manner and take responsibility for your orgasms. There is no Knight in Shining Armor. Learn how to give yourself orgasms – learn how to give one-self pelvic exams -- you know, consciousness raising groups.
"I wasn’t so bold as to want to become a lay mid-wife, but I wanted the letters after my name to be a nurse/mid-wife. Then I realized that in our culture, sexuality is sick and sick people needed nurse’s care. I also went into pornography to heal my own sexual issues so I just needed to go and study it a lot. Being a professional performer helped me because I could compartmentalize it. I didn’t have to pretend to be in a relationship. I didn’t have to care what you think about me tomorrow."
"I’d say twenty-five percent of the producers and directors have healthy relationships or are able to have relationships, and the rest are in some form of pain and discomfort over the state of their lives. They’d rather be making action movies; they’d rather be making cable with exploding cars and men with machine guns. Porn ends up being plan B. But you can’t put porn on your resume. My husband is a fabulous editor, he could edit any number of mainstream magazines, but what do you put on that resume for the last twenty-six years? The skill sets are the same: spread sheets and budgets. Again, because the subject matter is what it is, and pornography enjoys the status that it enjoys, they watch you on Saturday, but they won’t hire you on Monday. That has not changed."